Why Do Favors?

Some people think of favors as a sort of debt. Perhaps I help you move furniture this week, and next week you help me. But I'm talking about doing favors when there's no repayment in sight.

Some scientists claim that altruistic behavior is a way to get esteem in the eyes of onlookers. I suppose there's some of that. Guys probably are more generous with their money when they're on a date.

But there are two much better reasons to help others.

The important fact about most favors is that the recipients put value on them. If a friend spends five minutes fixing my computer, or telling me where to buy something, perhaps he has saved me hours. Perhaps he has saved me aggravation and money.

So, many favors have value far beyond their cost. That makes the world a richer place. Right there, that is a reason to do favors. Even if the recipient can never pay you back. Even if no one knows you did it. If you want to live in a rich world, help make it that way.

That's one reason. And the other is that you are what you do. Be the kind of person who does favors, and someday, when you really need one. the world will come through for you.

Last modified: 10 January 1999

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